We were going to take a trip for our anniversary.
Ten years of marriage justified the expense. It was going to be the second time in seven years of parenthood that we were kid-free. We were going.
Then we weren’t. Then everything changed.
As with the many other seismic shifts in our world, we had three possible reactions as we faced the canceled plans: wallow, delay, or modify.
The wallow option tends to be my instinctive choice, but this time I tried to rise above. The opportunity for travel in the near future made a delay seem less than promising, so it was time to modify.
We were going to have a party.
By party, I mean we were going to celebrate our nuptials in the most romantic possible way: with our three children, aged seven and under.
A vow renewal it would be, with our first-grader named officiant, the four-year-old taking up the flower girl mantle, and the toddler in charge of the ring bearer pillow – now stuffed with M&M’s to keep his attention – that we’d recently discovered during quarantine cleaning.
The excitement mounted as our backyard “wedding” took shape. We tried to recreate as much as possible: Pachelbel’s Canon for the soundtrack, our original Bible readings, and the purple heels I’d worn on our special day. I even found the bridal hairspray bottle that somehow still claimed space in our limited storage (I don’t much primp). Oh, and my veil. Why not?
We splurged on dinner from Centro, where we had celebrated the night of our engagement. And a cake from Crème. Because, cake.
We considered making it virtual but we didn’t. It was OK to do this with just us. There’s something about sharing your vows with the four other people who literally make up your world that adds a new preciousness to the occasion.
In a true representation of our 10 years, we were bickering minutes before the ceremony, when I nagged him out the door to pick up (curbside, obviously) the cake on time. The kids balked at their “nice” clothing and pushed back against the scheduled evening. The neighbor thought about mowing just as we were starting.
Then everything was fine. We forgot the circumstances and enjoyed ourselves. As we recited our vows, I was present in a way I think I’ve failed to be the rest of this quarantine.
The kids were bored but quiet and gave the requisite ewwwws during the kiss at the end. However, they were there and understood this was an important moment. They recognized we had once made and still make the choice to be together.
Plus, they got to eat cake.
Happy anniversary to us!
Maybe we’ll take a trip when the world returns to something resembling normal. Maybe not. But without these forced limitations, we never would have had our intimate vow renewal. And we would’ve missed out on a special celebration.
The times are hard and trying and out of our control. Taking a minute to celebrate something uniquely rather than wallow or delay gave us some unforgettable memories.